Lidl to create 4,000 jobs over three years amid new UK growth target
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The German-owned retailer expects to reach its target of having 1,000 stores by 2023 and has outlined a new ambition for 1,100 sites by 2025.
News of the continued UK expansion came as the group published its accounts for the year to the end of February at Companies House, showing how it benefited during the pandemic from its position as an “essential” retailer.
Sales were up 12 per cent at £7.7 billion while pre-tax profits hit £9.8 million after a £25.2m loss a year earlier, according to the latest accounts.
Lidl is privately owned, meaning it does not need to publish more up-to-date sales data unlike its stock market-listed rivals.
Alongside the latest numbers, bosses at Lidl said they opened 55 stores during the first year of the pandemic and spent £17.5m on boosting staff pay, including £8m on hourly wage hikes and £9.5m on bonuses during the Covid crisis.
Profits may have been higher, although Lidl - along with most of its rivals - agreed to repay more than £100m in business rates savings when Chancellor Rishi Sunak scrapped the tax to support the high street.
Several “essential” retailers made the repayments due to spikes in sales as they remained open while other stores were closed.
Lidl GB chief executive Christian Hartnagel said: “We delivered an impressive trading performance in the period which was supported by our continued investment in new and existing stores, product innovation and our people.
“All of this contributed to growth in our revenue and profits and positions us well for further growth in the years to come.”
Earlier this year, Lidl outlined 50 locations in Scotland where it would like to build new stores or relocate existing ones to larger sites.
Publishing its expansion “wish list”, the chain said it was eyeing town centre, edge-of-town, retail park and “metropolitan” locations across the country. Those included a dozen potential locations in and around Edinburgh, five in Glasgow and two each in Aberdeen, Cumbernauld, Dunfermline and Paisley.
In its latest accounts, Lidl also pointed out that customers are becoming far more environmentally conscious, which could pose a risk for the company if it does not tackle concerns around excess packaging and net-zero supply chains.
It said the supermarket will reduce plastic in its own-brand packaging by 40 per cent by 2025 and cut the total amount of own-label packaging by 25 per cent in the same year.
Despite the strong sales during the financial year, the firm also warned that Brexit has had a negative impact on the business.
The accounts state that since the end of the transition period there has been an increase in administration for importing and exporting and warned customs agents are being stretched, which is limiting their ability to process goods more efficiently.